So I’ve successfully made it through my first 13 days in Dar, and my first full work week. When I arrived in Dar, I was given someone else’s visa (my picture, but some old man’s information). I finally got that resolved after spending a full 8 hours waiting for the transport, waiting for random people to get their affairs in order, airport bureaucracy, traffic, the list goes on. I settled into my own little office on the third floor of what is known as the “VCT Building” on Muhimbili’s campus. Last week, I worked closely with the project’s study coordinator to hire our data collectors/qualitative interviewers, and developed the PowerPoints for their training. We hired 4 interviewers, and training is now underway! It has felt really good to be put in a position with so much responsibility and trust. For once, I feel like my input and knowledge is actually respected and listened to. During training, I got to explain how pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and HIV self-testing work, and the benefits of beginning ART early. Anyone who knows me knows that I looovee talking about anything to do with HIV, so I had a blast talking to our interviewers about these new methods of prevention, detection, and treatment.
Upanga, the area where I am living and where Muhimbili Hospital and University of Health and Allied Sciences is located, is a fairly quiet little area with a lot of little shops, kiosks, and street vendors. The neighborhood where I live in West Upanga is connected by a lot of bumpy dirt roads, and has a lot of fairly nice high-rise apartments (like the one I am renting). There are kiosks and street vendors that sell fruit and various other items, so I have been utilizing them to get my daily fix of avocado. As expected, the area around Muhimbili is bustling, with tons of dala dalas (the public bus system), taxis, bodas (motorcycles), etc. There is a really good fruit stand that I frequent, and I have also discovered a nice little restaurant tucked away behind a gate for lunch. My preferred lunch is chicken and rice, which costs less than $2 at the staff cafeteria, and maybe $3-4 outside of Muhimbili. Not bad.
Looking forward with the project, we plan to wrap-up training on the 11th, and we are scheduled to re-locate to Kisarawe (about a 1-2 hour drive West of Dar depending on traffic) on the 12th. We can hopefully get everything in order (meeting with the director of the HIV Care and Treatment Center, the District Medical Officer, etc.) and begin data collection around the 13th-14th. However, as with most research, and especially research in Tanzania – things sometimes go pole pole (slowly), so I am just crossing my fingers and hoping for the best!
That’s all for now!